Game-changing collaboration will help find a cure

Brain Tumour Research is delighted to be working with Beatson Cancer Charity in a unique collaboration which will change the story for brain tumour patients in Scotland. 

The two leading cancer charities are joining forces to raise the funds needed to open a new Scottish Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence, which will be based in laboratories at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow.  

Your support would enable world-leading brain cancer experts to get closer to finding a cure for glioblastoma (GBM), a highly aggressive brain tumour with a devastatingly short average survival time of 12-18 months. 

The complexity, diversity and rapid growth of a GBM means it is very difficult for researchers to develop treatments that can be effective for a patient with this diagnosis.  

If we are able to secure the funding needed, this collaboration would see researchers in Edinburgh and Glasgow working to increase the number of clinical trials for GBM patients in Scotland and improve outcomes. Home to the largest group of multidisciplinary GBM researchers in the UK, the Centre would bridge the gap between promising new discoveries and patient benefit, from laboratory to bedside.  

How is glioblastoma (GBM) currently treated? 

Surgery to remove as much of the tumour as is possible and safe is the first option for the treatment of a GBM. Unfortunately, the diffuse nature of GBM means that some tumour cells will almost always be left behind and continue to grow. For this reason, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are the next stages of treatment. Usually, people are offered the chemotherapy drug temozolomide alongside radiotherapy, and then further doses of temozolomide afterwards. Research into new treatments, such as immunotherapy and targeted therapies, is ongoing, and these treatments may offer hope for improved outcomes in the future. However, at present, there is no known cure for GBM which is why we need your help.

What research would the Scottish Centre be undertaking?

The Brain Tumour Research Scottish Centre of Excellence would bridge the gap between the discovery of potential new treatments for GBM and getting this treatment into patients. It is very hard to attract funding for this kind of translational research.

By robustly testing promising new drugs and drug combinations on their world-class drug discovery platform, they will generate the preclinical proof-of-concept data to support clinical trial development.

This will provide trial funders with the information they need to invest in trials, and as such, increase the number of clinical trials for GBM patients in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Our ambitious plans north of the border would see the
creation of a Centre which would be home to the largest group of multidisciplinary GBM researchers in the UK, and over the course of five years it would further develop its drug discovery platform to better replicate real-world tumours, to include changes brought about by chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as well as contain the immune cells that influence to tumour growth. The real-world accuracy of the testing platform would ensure that the results from any potential drug testing are more reliable and will increase the likelihood of the drugs continuing to work in human trials – an area where a lot of new discoveries fail.

The Centre will also make training, mentoring, and integrating a new cohort of young translationally focused scientists and clinicians a priority. It will build a community of researchers who will make a clinical impact in the decades to come.

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Why do we want to fund it, and how will it sit with other Brain Tumour Research Centres of Excellence?

At present, we are supporting two Centres of Excellence that are already doing ground-breaking work on glioblastoma: Imperial College London and Queen Mary University of London. The research team at Imperial College London is working to improve the effectiveness of current treatments, and the team over at Queen Mary is delving into the biology of GBM tumours to find out more about what makes a tumour to grow and how this could be exploited.

The Scottish Centre, based at the Universities of Edinburgh and University of Glasgow, complements this existing portfolio because it is focused the gap between the discovery of a new treatment and getting this treatment into patients in a clinical trial. While not only identifying and testing new drugs from within the Centre itself, our other Research Centres will work with the Scottish Centre to test their discoveries, increasing the impact all the Centres have for brain tumour patients.

How will the Scottish Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence further our understanding of other types of brain tumour?

While primarily focused on GBM tumours, the learnings from the Scottish Centre will help further our understanding of other tumour types, as well as potentially identify new treatment options for these patients.

Low-grade gliomas for instance, can progress into higher grades, such as GBM,
over time – research from the Scottish Centre could provide valuable insights and options for these patients.

New targets, new drug compounds, new combinations and new delivery methods may be repurposed to treat other tumour types from high-grades to low-grades.

  • Dan Knowles, CEO of Brain Tumour Research: “New, improved treatments for GBM patients are desperately needed. At present, new discoveries and approaches are not progressing quickly enough into clinical testing in patients. The Scottish Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence would help bridge this gap, leading to pivotal preclinical proof-of-concept data to support clinical trial development for patients. The Centre represents a significant investment in Scotland and would complement our other Centres of Excellence at the University of Plymouth, Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London and the Institute of Cancer Research.”

  • Martin Cawley, CEO of Beatson Cancer Charity: “This is such an exciting initiative and one which has the positive potential to make a significant impact into advancing research and ultimately new treatment options for brain tumours. Beatson Cancer Charity is delighted to be working in partnership with Brain Tumour Research to make this happen. I have no doubt this will result in a deeper understanding of the complexity of brain tumours and lead to a breakthrough in exciting new treatments in the years ahead.”

  • Professor Anthony Chalmers, Professor of Clinical Oncology, University of Glasgow: “We all want the same thing, which is better treatments for patients with brain tumours, but we’re coming at it from different angles and different areas of expertise. Professor Pollard’s team is doing discovery science, identifying potential new targets and treatments and, in Glasgow, we run clinical trials to test new treatments. What we’ve been missing is the space in the middle where we rigorously test these new therapies. We have made a lot of progress in treating other cancers, but brain tumours come with particular challenges. The most important goal we have for this Centre is to increase the number of treatments that we’re able to offer patients with brain tumours.”

  • Professor Steve Pollard, Professor of Cancer and Stem Cell Biology, University of Edinburgh: “One of the reasons we wanted to develop a new Centre was the realisation that by working together we had incredible complementary strengths that could really make a difference. Brain tumours are very challenging to treat, they’re often detected quite late, and they lie deep in the brain so we can’t monitor them.” 


Scotland Stats

In the UK every year, 3,200 people are diagnosed with a GBM

More than 1,000 people in Scotland are diagnosed with a brain tumour every year

In Scotland, 433 people are diagnosed with a high-grade brain tumour every year

(Source: NHS Scotland and Public Health Scotland) 

To find out more about how you can help us to achieve our vision in Scotland, contact Russell Marriott, Director of Income Generation and Development

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